This week I attended an all day professional program called “Mailpiece Design Professional Program” held by the Greater Portland Postal Customer Council (GPPCC) and led by a USPS employed trainer/speaker. Firstly, I’d like to say that the event was beautifully planned and presented. I’ve been to GPPCC events in the past and they are all very well put together. For being a free event the packed house of attendees were spoiled with great food and take-away materials.
I’ve worked on various mailings over my years as a designer… postcards, self-mailers, etc. and almost every time I learn something new about doing a mailable piece. Mailings are a big example of design work that requires a great deal of specialized and up-to-date information.
This event covered a wide variety of information, including…
- different mailing methods and rates (First Class, Flat Rate, Non-Profit Rates, Postcards, etc.)
- mailpiece dimensions and weight
- what you can and can’t mail (rigid items for example)
- printable areas (where designers can play)
- address formatting
- business reply mail standards
- mailing list software (usually used specifically by mail-houses)
There was a tremendous amount to learn and I left with a binder of information that had been distilled down from a huge library of information. I’ll be sharing more of this information in future articles, but in the mean time here are couple useful facts and rules for businesses and individuals.
- Non-Profit Postage Rates: If you are a non-profit organization you may be eligible for low postage rates, which could potentially make a mail campaign quite cost effective. There are many guidelines that a non-profit must follow to get these rates, but in the end $0.07 for postage is worth the paperwork.
- Correct Addressing: Correct address formatting should be a habit for all mail we send, whether it’s Grandma’s birthday card or bulk mail to 10,000 recipients. Correct formatting will help your mail get to the recipient faster.
Contrary to popular habit the USPS does not want ANY punctuation, no periods in SW or after MRS, no comma between city and state. Use ALL uppercase letters, even in a ‘ND’ suffix to a numbered street. Left justified only. If the street address is too long for one line you should put the apartment or suite number ABOVE the street address line. The machinery reads from the bottom up, so you want it to see the city, state, zip first then the street, then the unit number.
MRS JANE DOE
THIS COMPANY LLC
1234 SW 183ND AVE STE 400
HER TOWN OR 97123-1234
I actually learned how to use a key to decipher a POSTNET barcode. This barcode, which is soon being updated to an Intelligent Mail barcode format is used by the USPS equipment to read point of delivery information (zip, street address).
I’ve submitted my request for the test to be a Certified Mailpiece Designer and I’ll let you know how I do, once I’m finished.